Slapstick, Or, Lonesome No More! is Kurt Vonnegut’s self declared fictionalized autobiography, the story of a man who calls himself Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain. He’s the king of Manhattan and the former President of the United States, writing us this story from a post-apocalyptic world in which the sky is yellow, gravity is inconsistent at best, and the Chinese have long since invented a machine to shrink people. It’s the story of Wilbur’s life, alternating between a present reflection on the dystopian state of affairs, and reminiscing on his early life with his twin sister Eliza. (They grew up as giants on an asteroid surrounded by apple trees you see, quite worthy of being memorialized).
Vonnegut’s writing style is ridiculous, obtuse, and brilliant. Slapstick is a study on loneliness and the factors relating to isolation, whether it be self-imposed or thrust upon you. I blew through this book in a day, only putting it down every couple chapters to widen my eyes in awe. Although at first it appears convoluted, with no real story line or theme, the subtle delights of the characters will eventually shine through and draw you in all the more. Vonnegut uses science fiction and unreal characters in order to convey a truth about human relationships, growing up, and growing apart. I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different and are willing to sit and puzzle this lovely, lovely book out.
-Keiko, (Dusen)Berry Blogger and member of the River Teen Advisory Board